Sand Creek High School pre-engineering students toured the Youth With A Mission Emerge Ranch aquaponics facility in El Paso County April 28.
YWAM is using fish and water in their aquaponics system to grow plants. The missionary organization sees aquaponics as "a creative solution to food security around the world." The group has built several facilities across the globe, including Chiang Mai, Thailand and Guatemala.
A five-acre property just north of Woodmen Road houses the greenhouse for the aquaponics project that has been up and running for nearly a year.
Todd Matia, SCHS engineering instructor, says the trip was an opportunity to learn about using fish waste as fertilizer for plants, but was also the beginning of a relationship between the youth organization and the school. "We anticipate that some of our students will volunteer at the aquaponics facility and continue to learn," said Matia.
The highly successful Project Lead The Way pre-engineering program at Sand Creek features a group of students that worked for two years in conjunction with the Lemelson-MIT Foundation to create a solution to many problems plaguing bio-sand filters in third-world countries. Their work will be distributed to organizations currently creating bio-sand filters worldwide, and has the opportunity to improve the lives of thousands suffering from waterborne illnesses.
Another current group of SCHS students have a patent pending for a consumer product that is expected to be on shelves soon. "It places the students in a $300 million dollar a year marketplace," Matia said.
The trip to the aquaponics facility may be the next opportunity for Sand Creek
Engineering students to contribute to improving the world, this time closer to home.
"The students' dream is take what they are learning at the YWAM aquaponics facility to build one for Care and Share to serve southern Colorado," said Matia.